‘Make in India’ Cough Syrups Stir Serious Health Debate
The WHO found the syrups used there were made by an Indian pharmaceutical company that contained ‘unacceptable amounts’ of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
The syrups have been potentially linked with acute kidney injuries. Later, the Indian government formed a panel to examine the detailed report shared by the WHO. In the same month, the deaths of nearly 100 children in Indonesia prompted the country to suspend sales of all syrup and liquid medication.
Indonesia too reported some syrup medicine was found to contain ingredients linked to acute kidney injuries (AKI), which have killed 99 young children this year. Indonesian authorities, however, said the cough syrups used in The Gambia were not sold locally.
According to the BBC, some 40 percent of over-the-counter and generic medicines sold in the US and a quarter of all medicines dispensed in the UK come from India.
Outside the US, India has the most number of drugs making plants – 800 – that are compliant with the US health and safety requirements. In India, 11 children died at a Udhampur hospital in Jammu and Kashmir in the winter of 2019, and a case was registered against state-based drug manufacturer Digital Vision.
Tests later found that three samples of the cough syrup contained diethylene glycol or DEG, an industrial solvent used in the making of paints, ink, and brake fluids. Kidney failure is common after consuming this poisonous alcohol. The license of the company was canceled on February 17, 2020, and the production of drugs stopped.
After this disturbing event, India has sought an extensive report on the 18 fatalities in Uzbekistan that were allegedly linked to the use of cough syrup manufactured by an Indian pharmaceutical firm.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has launched a probe to look into the issue. For now, manufacturing has stopped.
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